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TRAVELTHINK by Dr. Javier González-Soria
eNews Travelthink 17/2020 año/year 15
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Do not let data spoil the new mantras Mass Media and Social Media keep repeating
One of the obvious consequences of the disastrous educations that recent generations have suffered (are suffering) is their incapacity to question the information, gather curated data, try to understand global and complex scenarios and then, try to formulate a personal conclusion.
And as Mass Media is assisting to their irremediable progressive irrelevance is mimicking in many cases all the defects of Social Media: Low-quality content, simplistic messages addressed to simplistic minds, ominous fear to contravene the mainstream opinion, superficial approaches not founded in data, politically correctness obsession...
One good example is the "Flyngshame" movement, which demonizes short-haul airline transportation considering it is the main responsible for the CO2 contamination. The aeroplane has become the ultimate scapegoat for climate change, with extreme calls to ban domestic flights altogether.
But reliable data shows that this is a stupid assertion which diverts our attention from where really is the problem: Transportation in our own vehicles.
In 2019, total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Germany across all sectors totalled 805 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents – a unit of measurement scientists use to offset carbon dioxide emissions against other greenhouse gases.
The transport sector alone, which totalled 163 million tons, accounted for 20.3% of total emissions. And domestic flights represented a mere 0.24% or 1.9 million tons. By contrast, motorized individual transport (mainly cars and motorcycles) was responsible for 159 million tons of GHG, or 19.8% of total emissions. Rail transport had the lowest impact on the different transport modes with only 776,000 tons, representing 0.10% of total emissions.
But the data tell us even more about the truth. Consider that out of all the 124 million passengers who boarded an aeroplane in Germany in 2019, only 20% embarked on a domestic journey and many of these flights were feeder flights used by people to continue their journey to an international destination. So, only the minority of flights taking off in Germany could really be substituted with alternative modes of transport like the train. And if feeder flights were prohibited, this wouldn’t necessarily mean that passengers would switch to the train – they may just fly directly to an airport hub in a nearby country, or, in many cases, use the car.
Furthermore, just 4% of the 23 million purely domestic air travellers chose a so-called ultra-short route with a distance of less than 400 km. The remaining 96% cover a longer distance by air – a distance that cannot be reached by train in a reasonable time. This is especially relevant for business travel where saved time equals money.
In conclusion, focusing our efforts to reduce the emissions of CO2 on banning short-haul flights is a total mistake because it is going to resolve a ridiculously small part of the problem. It is clear that motorized individual transport is the real issue, but it is a really complex issue that affects all of us as all of us are in part responsible. It is not possible to draw a simplistic line between the bad and the good as it has been made with airlines, which have been stigmatized as evil multinationals whose only aim is to earn money and destroy the planet. 
 But, you know, don´t let data spoil the new mantras.
more data
Health & Safety Certifications: No more than Mumbo Jumbo
The travel industry has suffered for years a myriad of public, semipublic and private organizations that have tried to set the standards and validate the qualify of different categories of travel players, mainly hotels and other types of accommodations. From the legal and more official classifications, we have contemplated many other approaches based on attributes like luxury, sustainability, "greenness", etc. We all know the big difference in reliability between many of these proposals and in their capacity to trigger sales. But it is a business and everybody has the right to compete.
What seems more ethically arguable is to extend that business to take advantage of the justified fear the COVID19 has created in the travellers. There is now an abundance of health and safety guidelines, but industry protocols are only useful if they’re actually implemented. Many certification labels have surfaced, and surprisingly some rely on an honour system and others have a flexible framework that allows for only partial compliance with the recommended measures.
We find Goverment Certifications like Portugal’s “Clean & Safe” label, whose applicants simply need to submit a “Declaration of Commitment” in which they promise to comply with the government’s health and safety protocols. Similarly, Spain’s “Responsible Tourism” seal can be downloaded “after completing a form in which the establishment shows its commitment to following the Guidelines.” The Greek government makes mandatory for all hotels and venues to obtain its “Health First” certification but there is no verification mechanism in place. 
We also find Private Certifications like the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) “Safe Travels” stamp. To obtain it the WTTC members simply have to fill in a form and accept the WTTC’s “Terms & Conditions” 
The Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s (GBAC) STAR Facility Accreditation Program is based on the explanatory material found on the GBAC website, their accreditation process operates as a form of consultation. They provide a handbook with practical advice; they offer a number of training programs for staff; and in the final stage of certification, they review the company’s updated health and safety policies to ensure they meet GBAC standards. Notably, the vetting process does not seem to involve any on-site inspections.
Similarly, the new WELL Health-Safety Rating requires participating businesses to provide ‘documentation’ showing that their health and safety policies meet some of the WELL association’s recommended protocols for Covid-19 containment. While the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) organization acts as a third-party review agency, the verification process seems to be conducted entirely on paper.
Sharecare and the Forbes Travel Guide partnered on the Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED third-party system to evaluate and confirm an individual hotel’s cleaning regimen.  Participating hotels will go through a health security software that requires leaders to verify their property’s health protocols on a regular basis in more than 360 standards. An artificial intelligence chatbot will walk leaders through a verification process that includes cleaning standards, social distancing measures, ventilation and air-handling equipment, and health safety communication with employees and guests.
Bureau Veritas’ SafeGuard label appears to involve a third-party audit of the physical site, although the agency considers virtual site inspections acceptable.
COVID19 is too serious to treat it from a marketing perspective and the confidence of the clients in accommodations and venues must be based on processes verified in situ by independent parties, recurrently. Let see if the industry is capable to understand it and avoid the easy way.
What has happened with these travel start ups in 2020?
I have always considered an interesting exercise to review the performance in the year of those start ups that the previous year were nominated as those to follow. In this case, I have selected the list prepared by Travel Massive (TM) of the "50 Travel Startups To Watch In 2020". In their words, some have earned a place on the list because they are bold, some are brave, some have a spark TM admire and some may turn out to change the face of travel as we know it. One thing these travel startups all have in common is that TM was expecting them to make headlines in 2020. Now is time for you to check if they were right or they would have to wait until 2021.
read list
El TJUE dictamina que no hay derecho a compensación cuando un vuelo se desvía a un aeropuerto cercano
El TJUE, mediante unas conclusiones realizadas por el Abogado General Priit Pikamäe, dictamina que el hecho de que un vuelo aterrice en un aeropuerto distinto de aquel para el que se efectuó la reserva, en la misma ciudad o región, no origina un derecho del pasajero a compensación por cancelación del vuelo. Sin embargo, el tribunal considera que el pasajero si que debe tener derecho a compensación si llega al aeropuerto para el que efectuó la reserva o a otro destino cercano convenido con el transportista aéreo con un retraso de tres horas o más.
Las cuestiones prejudiciales resueltas hoy se originaron por el caso de un pasajero de la aerolínea Austrian Airlines, que reclamaba una compensación de 250 euros porque su vuelo de Viena (Austria) a Berlín (Alemania) fue desviado al aeropuerto de Berlín Schönefeld. Debido a eso, el pasajero había sobrepasado el horario de prohibición de vuelo nocturno en vigor en el aeropuerto para el que se había efectuado la reserva (Berlín Tegel). El aterrizaje en Berlín Schönefeld tuvo lugar 58 minutos después del horario inicialmente previsto para el aterrizaje en Berlín Tegel. Además, Berlín Schönefeld está a una distancia de 24 kilómetros, esto es, 41 minutos, del domicilio del pasajero, mientras que la distancia entre Berlín Tegel y su domicilio es de 8 kilómetros, esto es, 15 minutos.
Austrian Airlines no propuso al pasajero ningún transporte alternativo desde Berlín Schönefeld a Berlín Tegel. Austrian Airlines se negó a abonar la compensación reclamada por el pasajero alegando que este llegó a su destino final, Berlín, con un retraso de tan solo 58 minutos, y que pudo llegar fácilmente a su domicilio tomando un medio de transporte adicional desde el aeropuerto de sustitución.
El Landesgericht Korneuburg (Tribunal Regional de Korneuburg, Austria), que ha llevado el litigio principal, ha planteado al Tribunal de Justicia varias cuestiones prejudiciales acerca de la interpretación del Reglamento sobre los derechos de los pasajeros aéreos. El tribunal considera, en las conclusiones, que la compañía aérea debe ofrecer al pasajero, por propia iniciativa, la cobertura de los gastos de desplazamiento hasta el aeropuerto para el que se efectuó la reserva o hasta otro destino cercano convenido con el pasajero, como ya prevé el Reglamento.
Según el Abogado General, el incumplimiento de esta obligación de cobertura de los gastos de desplazamiento de los pasajeros desde un aeropuerto a otro no confiere al pasajero el derecho a recibir una compensación como en los casos de anulación o de retraso del vuelo de una duración de tres horas o más. En cambio, genera para el pasajero el derecho a que se le reembolsen los importes que, a la vista de las circunstancias propias de cada caso, resulten necesarios, adecuados y razonables para suplir esa deficiencia de la compañía aérea., China Southern Airlines launch ship-to-home luggage service
JD Logistics (JDL),'s logistics arm, has joined hands with China Southern Airlines to launch a 'Ship-to-Home' luggage express delivery service for Chinese travelers.
Starting from December, travelers to the destinations of Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport, Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport and Wuhan Tianhe International Airport can book the service through China Southern Airlines' app or the airline's baggage inquiry desk, and JD Logistics will ship luggage directly to travelers' home or designated addresses.
'The service allows a luggage-free travelling experience, so customers can save time instead of waiting at the baggage carousel,' said a representative from JD Express, the express delivery business of JD Logistics. 'Travelers can also view the real-time location of their baggage through the China Southern Airlines' mobile app.'
more info
United launches on-demand customer service at airports
Unite Airlines customers at Chicago O’Hare and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental airports can now communicate with customer service representatives through their mobile devices, eliminating the need to speak to someone in person at the gate or counter for services such as seat assignments, upgrades and rebooking.

The “Agent on Demand” service will roll out to all of United’s hubs by the end of this month.
more info
Airbnb takes IPO crown for 2020
In 2020's largest deal yet, Airbnb has finally pulled off its long-awaited IPO, raising $3.5 billion and capping a drawn-out exit for its venture and private equity backers. The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg report that its shares were sold at $68 apiece, giving the pioneering home-rental giant a fully diluted value of $47 billion.

Airbnb's final price for the 51.6-million-share offering was revised upward twice from an initial estimated range of $44 to $50.

The company's haul of $3.5 billion marks the largest of the year, according to PitchBook data, beating out DoorDash's $3.37 billion offering and deals from Snowflake and Palantir. It also sets up a massive payday for Airbnb's top shareholders, Sequoia, with a 16.5% pre-IPO stake, and Founders Fund at 5.4%.

Airbnb has had a topsy-turvy year, after securing $2 billion in funding at a $18 billion valuation in April—down from $31 billion in 2017. But under CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky, the company proved resilient during the pandemic, pulling off a rebound in bookings over the summer that led to a third-quarter profit.
more info
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Dr. Javier González-Soria y Moreno de la Santa
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